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经济学人:财政部分裂 要钱还是要命?

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Breaking up the Treasury

财政部分裂
Your money or your life
要钱还是要命?
The knives are out for Whitehall's mightiest department
利刃直指白厅最强大的部门
TONY BLAIR once kidnapped a civil servant. It was 2005 and the then prime minister, who was heading to EU budget talks in Luxembourg, needed an economic expert. So he purloined a Treasury official. The reluctant bureaucrat was later dumped in Paris without passport or money, recalls Jonathan Powell, a former adviser, in his book “The New Machiavelli”. Oddly, the man “just wanted our assurance that we wouldn't tell the Treasury that he had been travelling with us.” If the news got out, his career could have ended.
托尼·布莱尔曾绑架过一位公务员。这发生在2005年,当时正前往卢森堡参加欧盟预算谈判的首相急需一位经济专家。所以他带走了一名财政部官员。据前任顾问乔纳森·鲍威尔在他的书作《新马基雅弗利》中回忆,那位本就不情不愿的官员在巴黎被丢下,不仅没有护照,更是身无分文。可奇怪的是,他“只想我们保证不会告诉财政部他与我们同行。”如果消息走漏,他的事业也就完蛋了。

The tale illustrates the potency of Britain's finance ministry, which has long wielded more power than its international counterparts—or, it sometimes seems, the prime minister's office. In the post-war years the Treasury was a hub for Keynesian demand management. Under Margaret Thatcher it became the engine room of a monetarist revolution. It commandeered social policy during Mr Blair's administration. Now it oversees austerity, the lodestar of the coalition government.

这个故事正说明了英国财政部的权势,它的权利涉及范围之广已超过它的国际同行,有时似乎更甚于首相办公室。在战后几年财政部曾是凯恩斯主义需求管理的中心。在玛格丽特·撒切尔任职期间,财政部成为了货币改革的中流砥柱。布莱尔手下行政机构的社会政策也被它霸占。如今它监视财政紧缩,这正是联合政府的目标。
Yet a report published on September 4th, “The Destruction of HM Treasury”, says Whitehall's leviathan should count its days. The two authors know their stuff. Stian Westlake directs policy at the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, a charity taken seriously by Treasury types. Giles Wilkes was an adviser to Vince Cable, the business secretary.
但是9月4日出版的报告《英国财政部的破坏》指出白厅兴风作浪的时日无多了。报告的两位作者有非常确切的报告素材。他们分别是斯蒂安·韦斯特莱克和贾尔斯·韦尔克斯,前者在国家科学、技术和艺术基金会指导政治,因为这个基金会是由财政部严肃对待的慈善项目。后者曾担任商务部长维斯·凯博的顾问。
Mr Westlake and Mr Wilkes argue that the rhythm of twice-yearly financial statements, in the budget and the autumn statement, makes the Treasury short-term in outlook and prone to headline-grabbing wheezes. Moreover, all three main parties have embraced the interventionist “sector strategies” championed by Michael Heseltine on the right and Lord Adonis on the left. Because the Treasury detests that sort of economic meddling, politicians have it in their sights. The department's functions might, the authors suggest, be distributed to an expanded prime minister's office, a stronger business department and a dedicated finance ministry.
韦斯特莱克和韦尔克斯在预算和秋季声明中辩解道,财务报表一年两次的节奏是财政部短期之内在前景和倾向方面的头条伎俩。另外,三个主要党派均已与右翼代表迈克尔·赫塞尔廷和左翼代表阿多尼斯勋爵共同掌管的干预性“部门策略”合作。因为财政部憎恨的正是这种经济干预,而这正在政客们的掌控之中。两位作者还猜测,这个新的部门的作用或许是用来扩大首相办公室的权利,建立起一个更强大的商务部和一个专用的财政部。
A plan to dismantle the Treasury was pitched to—and well received by—senior Labour figures at a private seminar last winter. Shadow cabinet ministers talk eagerly about the idea, though in the ruling Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties it is more a niche interest.
在去年冬天的一个非公开研讨会上制定了一个针对工党高级官员的拆除财政部计划,这个计划也被这些官员欣然接受。尽管这对执政的保守党和自由民主党来说只是小众兴趣,但并不妨碍影子内阁的部长们对这个计划讨论的热火朝天。
Even if any of this comes to pass, however, the Treasury's mandarins will remember that governments have tried to trim their wings before. Harold Wilson's Labour government set up a new Department of Economic Affairs to rival the Treasury. It too was supposed to concentrate on long-term planning, and it too was created partly for political reasons, to appease the ambitions of George Brown, the perpetually tired and emotional deputy leader of the party. The Treasury fought it, and won. Brown moved to the Foreign Office and the upstart department was unceremoniously closed down in 1969. The lesson? Never underestimate the power, and self-interest, of the Treasury.
但即便这个计划的任何一条被通过,财政部的官员们将会明白政府曾试图折断他们的羽翼。哈罗德·威尔逊手下的工党政府成立了一个新的经济事务部门来对抗财政部。这个部门应该也是致力于长期的计划,而且它也是因部分政治原因而建立起来的,用来满足疲惫不堪且情绪化的党派副领导人乔治·布朗的野心。财政部与之对抗并最终胜利。布朗调到外交部,而自命不凡的经济事务部于1969年关闭。这一课教给我们什么呢?绝对不要小觑财政部的利欲熏心。译者:邵夏沁 校对:崔梦雪

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